Exports push Germany’s trade surplus to 158 bln
BERLIN / PARIS - Agence France-Presse
An engineer works in the turbine head in the assembly of wind generators in Aurich, Germany. German export increased by 11.4 percent in 2011 to $158 billion. AP photoGermany’s trade surplus reached 158 billion euros ($209 billion) in 2011 on record exports that gained 11.4 percent, data released by the national statistics office showed yesterday.
The trade surplus for Europe’s biggest economy stood at 155 billion in 2010, but exports exceeded one trillion euros for the first time last year, reaching a record 1.06 trillion, the figures showed.
Germany remained the world’s second biggest exporter however, behind China which posted 2011 exports worth a total 1.432 billion euros.
China’s trade surplus last year was nonetheless a more modest 117 billion euros.
Elsewhere in the 17-nation eurozone, the second biggest economy, France, posted on Tuesday a trade deficit of almost 70 billion euros.
France and China are Germany’s leading trading partners.
But German imports also gained 13.2 percent to set a new record last year owing to a strengthening of domestic consumption.
The value of German imports reached an all-time high of 902 billion euros, the data showed.
Berlin’s balance of payments, a broader measure of exchanges with other countries that includes financial transfers, showed a surplus of 136 billion euros in 2011, down from 142 billion in 2010.
For December alone, the more narrow trade surplus came to 13.9 billion euros, in line with market expectations.
Grim picture in France
The Bank of France, meanwhile, estimated yesterday that the eurozone’s second biggest economy would stagnate in the first three months of 2012.
In January, French industrial activity “progressed very slightly according to business leaders” questioned by the central bank, which added that a slowdown had been noted in the service sector.
The central budget deficit of the country fell to 90.8 billion euros ($121 billion) at the end of 2011 from a record 148.8 billion euros a year earlier, the budget ministry said yesterday.
The sharp reduction, confirming data made public earlier, was hailed by France’s economy minister as a sign that France, with the second-biggest eurozone economy, was making progress in getting its finances in order. The figure had initially been released on January 24 by Budget Minister Valerie Pecresse during an appearance before the parliament’s finance committee.
“France is a serious country, which is modernizing itself and will be ahead of schedule on the plan to reduce its deficit, whereas six months ago we were told it was unattainable,” Economy Minister Francois Baroin told RTL radio yesterday. “This shows we are headed in the right direction.”
The central government budget deficit is one component in France’s overall public deficit, which also includes the budgets of local and regional governments and the social security health-care system.